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Midwinter of the Spirit: Anglican Exorcism
Cathedral is a great Anglican institution, but of course it was once Catholic.
The new administration maintained their reverence for Saint Thomas de
Cantilupe, the former bishop and defender of the faith entombed therein.
Frankly, Anglicans and Roman Catholics agreed on a lot of things back then,
except the whole business of Henry VIII’s divorce. Since the Reformation, they
have also split on the question women in the clergy. However, Vicar Merrily Watkins may
come to regret her Church’s progressive policy when she is called to combat
demonic powers in Midwinter of the Spirit: Series One
which releases today on DVD from Acorn Media.
from a personal tragedy, Watkins has accepted a posting in Hereford hoping the change
of scenery will be healthy for her daughter, Jane. She is still grieving the
loss of her father in a traffic accident. The Vicar’s feelings are even more
complicated, because her husband did not die alone. His mistress was also in
to her surprise, Watkins has been designated Hereford’s new “deliverance minister,”
which is a coded term for exorcist. She is openly skeptical during Rev. Huw
Owen’s training sessions, but she will quickly learn better. The first clue
something seriously evil is afoot would be the ritualistic crucifixion discovered
in the woods. Things really get bad when she visits the death bed of a
notorious pedophile and rumored Satanist, Denzil Joy, whose foul spirit somehow
worms its way into her head before his body expires. He will torment her with
dreams and visions, while his mortal minions lure her vulnerable daughter into
their clutches. Fortunately, no demon would want anything to do with irascible old
Owen, who will help Watkins battle the earthly conspiracy.
there are definitely some supernatural goings on in Midwinter, it is rather ambiguous just how demonic matters will
really get, which makes it quite intriguing to watch unfold. Of course, there
is the possibility things could get really, really bad, raising the stakes
considerably. However, Owen often makes the sage point that evil is a very
profound human reality, demonstrated by suicide bombers and the like.
Maxwell Martin sure works a lot, but it is clearly because she is so reliable.
For an educated everywoman character under stress, she is tough to beat. As Watkins,
she makes every crisis of faith seem as believable as her challenges of
motherhood. However, David Threlfall really puts his stamp on the series as the
wise but prickly Owen. If your church needed an exorcism, you would want him to
do it. On the villainous side of the ledger, Siobhan Finneran (O’Brien in Downton Abbey) chews the scenery with
suitably sinister delight as Angela Purefoy, the local leader of the infernal
are some competently rendered special effects in Midwinter, but it is really more about mood and tapping into our
ancient collective fears of the demonic. On some level, we are all still
Catholics and Stephen Volk’s adaptation of Phil Rickman’s novel targets those
inherited anxieties quite skillfully. Tightly but sensitively helmed by Richard
Clark, Midwinter takes Christian
faith and the Church seriously, treating them with respect, even while putting
the latter in metaphysical danger. This really is horror in the William Peter
Blatty tradition. Highly recommended, Midwinter
of the Spirit: Season One is now available on DVD and streams on Acorn TV.
Labels: Anna Maxwell Martin, DVD